The Covid-19 pandemic has upended how people work, with an unprecedented number of workers working from home.
The events industry is not spared either from the disruptions. Many event organizers have had to cancel already scheduled in-person summits as they move to comply with social distancing restrictions.
Thankfully and despite the chaos and uncertainty around social gatherings, virtual summits make it possible for professionals to stay in touch with their colleagues, learn from industry experts and share their knowledge with others.
If you are planning to attend one of these virtual summits, you may want to review our virtual conference tips to ensure you get the most value.
Treat the virtual conference as you would if you were attending a face-to-face summit. When participating in a face-to-face conference, there are specific steps you would usually take to ensure you get the most from the event. The same rules apply to online conferences.
For instance, you can consider clearing your schedule. Set out-of-office messages on your email and phone to avoid getting tempted to check notifications and respond.
When attending from home, be sure to cut off anything that could distract you. Let everyone in the house know you have a commitment that requires your complete focus. Go to a secluded and quiet part in the house or stick a do-not-disturb sign on the door if streaming from a home office.
Your attitude can make or mar your virtual summit experience. When you attend a digital conference with high expectations, you're more likely to have good things to say at the end of the experience than when you're skeptical.
To help you get in the right mindset, consider reviewing the agenda before the event to remind yourself once again why you signed up in the first place.
Knowing what sessions are offered and the time slot for each session will help you identify which speakers you'd like to listen to live and ones for catch up. Also, since most virtual summits usually provide a cloud tag of participants, you can easily create a list of people to connect with at the event.
Conferences, whether online or in-person, are excellent opportunities to engage with other professionals and for networking. However, unlike traditional summits, where participants sit through sessions without asking questions and speakers only get to receive feedback from the audience at the end of their talk, virtual events are much more interactive.
Participants are encouraged to engage with speakers – ask questions or even leave comments. It is also possible to chat with other participants and get their take on a topic without appearing disruptive or ruining others' experiences.
When you attend a virtual conference, be sure to take advantage of all the interactive features to connect with peers, share insights, and build relationships.
One advantage of virtual events is that everything is usually recorded, and organisers often make these content available to participants long after the event has ended.
You can re-watch the sessions you attended so that you can catch what you missed the first time. Or replay sessions you missed, which are great for learning, especially when you consider that repetition is vital for internalising new ideas.
However, it is possible to forget about replaying and reviewing recordings from the summit once the event has ended. To prevent this from happening, you may want to consider scheduling it.
Add a reminder in your calendar when you can replay the videos from the summit, reflect on them, and identify key insights you can implement in your team or organisation.
With several event-specific software available and many content sharing resources to choose from, you don't want to find on the event day that the organisers are using an entirely different suite of applications from the one you have.
Ask the event organisers about tech requirements – is the summit holding on Zoom, Facebook room, Google Meeting, or on a bespoke platform? Do you need special software before you can access event resources?
Be sure you understand the event's tech needs and take all the necessary steps to get them if you don't already have them.
For tools you haven't used before, you may want to familiarise yourself with the interface and layout of the dashboard and take note of locations of essential features you may need during the event.
While you don't hope for glitches or experience any setback with your equipment before or during the event, you may still want to plan for any eventualities.
Having a backup will give you the peace of mind you need to focus completely at the summit.
For example, having a second internet connection would mean you can switch to the backup network when your Wi-Fi connection becomes spotty.
As part of the preparation for the event, consider testing all your equipment and computer set to ensure everything is working as it should.
Test your internet speed and be sure to disconnect all bandwidth-hogging devices or applications that may slow the connection. Listen with your headset to ensure the audio quality is crisp clear.
Testing your tools early on will help remove surprises and ensure you can fully concentrate on the proceedings during the event without having to worry about your equipment.
Finally, you want to sign in early and get settled before the event kicks off. Chances are you would arrive before the speakers take to the stage was the summit in-person. The same rules apply for the virtual summit.
Get in early, settle down, and network with other participants as you wait for the event to begin.
Virtual summits are undoubtedly going to play a crucial role in the new normal as people begin to connect on the backdrop of the social distancing measures.
Even if you haven't attended a conference online yet, chances are you will soon enough. We hope these tips will help you prepare for your first virtual summit and get the most from it.